An Unforgettable Experience

July 17 2007 / ShareHim in Uganda A, May. 25 - Jun. 9 '07 #168
by Pavel Kostecka

Personal Testimony of Pavel Kostecka.

The crusade in Uganda was my first mission experience abroad. After one man decided not to go, I had only one morning to decide. I had some doubts. I have a visual disability and must read at a very short distance. I prayed, and God answered me very quickly. I opened my Bible and found encouraging texts that God would be with me, so I said, “Yes, I’ll go!”

When I finally arrived to Uganda I faced a cultural shock. In developed Europe we often criticize our situation, but people in Uganda must solve far more difficult problems every day. Everything was on the go. Everything was chaotic. I was strongly affected by the great contrasts. I saw a slum and immediately in the same neighborhood were nice buildings.

Our destination was the town of Mbarara, an important traffic junction in southwestern Uganda. It’s a multicultural town with both Christians of various denominations and Muslims.

My first sermon night was a never-to-be-forgotten experience. The program started shortly after my arrival. A government officer came to welcome me and thanked me for coming. Before the sermon I (and everyone of us) were full of stress, but after we began I felt great peace in my heart. My friends had similar experience, so even on the first night all of us knew our weakness and saw God’s power.

God also showed His omniscience in the assignment of people to particular sites. My church, Nyamitanga, was small with a family atmosphere similar to my home church in Chrudim. There was no room for anonymity. People knew each other’s struggles and joys. They had tight fellowship and deep acceptance and understanding between each other. I was also grateful for my translator pastor Banad Kakuru. I appreciate his hard work when he had to understand my English.

We experienced beautiful moments in the last days of the campaign. After a few of the sermons almost all the people came forward. We sang and prayed. We rejoiced that ten people came to the watery grave and were baptized. Fifteen more decided for baptism but leaders from other churches walked from home to home and discouraged people. People changed their mind and are now hesitant. I don’t condemn them, but I pray for them. I hope the church members don’t forget them, but will pray for them and visit them again.

I was surprised by the fact that not many church members have their own Bible. One Bible costs $8 and an average income is only about $20 – 30. I had some money with me, so I could buy about 25 Bibles for people. They were very grateful. It’s a paradox. In Europe there are many Bibles, but people don’t open them. In Africa many people would like to read Bible, but they don’t have occasion.

In Uganda, I learned many important lessons. First, I realized that many people are hungry for evangelism. I asked myself why God sent me when many better speakers are available. One of answers is that the harvest is so abundant that many, many reapers are wanted. In Europe, many people are silent about Jesus because they think they are not good in witnessing. But my experience says clearly that even imperfect preaching may be powerful and blessed. I remember one 13-year-old boy who came and opened his heart to me. He loved Jesus and would like to become a preacher in the future. Generally I saw the biggest reaction on preaching from children. Maybe one of them might become a great missionary one day.

My second observation concerns the importance of lay workers in the church. The task Christ laid upon His church is so complex that is absolutely necessary to involve every member. Everyone, regardless of his social status, health, property, or education is able to be involved somehow. We should want to be involved because witnessing the work of the Holy Spirit during evangelization is the most joyful thing we may experience in our earthly lives.

Third, I realized that evangelization is a fight. We fight over everyone. My experience with priests from other denominations discouraging people who had decided for baptism showed how vulnerable people are during conversion.

Fourth, in the Czech Republic we have problems with preaching Adventist truth, especially topics related to the Great Controversy and the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation. The Postmodern view of tolerance forbids one to speak about anything accusatory. I asked several people in Mbarara how to tackle the subject about the small horn and the change of Sabbath to Sunday. Surprisingly they said me there’s no problem. These things are God’s word. If you speak it with love, people will see it and understand. That’s a message I brought with me back to the Czech Republic.

Of course, I experienced hard moments in Uganda too. But more important is the positive effect of the journey. I loved the country and the mission work. I’m eager for another occasion to come back and continue this work.

Now that I’m back, I plan to speak with various people about my journey. I had a presentation at my work and it provoked people to discuss spiritual things. People like talks about exotic countries and they asked me many questions. Also, I’m going to visit churches and speak about Christ’s power I saw in Africa. I’m full of courage to speak about Jesus now, and I’m decided to transfer it to other people. If you have occasion to participate in a ShareHim campaign, don’t be hesitant. It will do good for yourself and others.
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